The Economical Effects of Going to Jail | Money Hints

The effects of jail go beyond the fact of incarceration for criminal acts. There’s a far-reaching economical aspect that can’t be ignored. In 2008, more than 1 in 100 adults were in jail in the United States, the highest in the world, according to The Pew Charitable Trusts. The dollar amount in state correctional costs quadrupled over the last 20 years, now topping $50 billion each year. Incarceration costs everyone money—big bucks, in fact—from state and local governments to taxpayers. It is also has intangible costs related to educational and economic stability that is severely altered when a family member, particularly a father, heads to jail. As the nation with the highest rates of incarceration, the statistics paint a sobering picture of prison life in America.

Economical Effects on the Individual

Incarceration is largely centered on men, the uneducated, the young and racial minorities, negatively affecting the economic prospects of former inmates. Men who have served time experience reduced hourly wages by 11 percent, and yearly earnings of 40 percent. Furthermore, Pew estimates that by the age of 48, a former inmate will have earned $179,000 less than if he had never gone to jail. This has a lasting effect on upward economic mobility, as inmates are more likely to stay bottom-rung earners, never making it past the lowest earning distribution levels. This rut is tough to get out of, made even harder by the lack of resources and opportunities once they get out.

Effects on Family

Many inmates are parents—54 percent, in fact, with 120,000 mothers and 1.1 million fathers. One in 28 kids has a parent behind bars, says Pew, up from one in 125 two-and-a-half decades ago. Not only are children with incarcerated fathers more likely to be expelled or suspended from school, their upward economic mobility is also severely hampered. Family income drops, on average, 22 percent in the year a father is incarcerated over the previous year. Therefore, incarceration doesn’t just affect the individual locked up; it also has far-reaching damaging effects on kids and families as a whole.

Effects on Government and Taxpayers

Local governments spent an estimated $1.7 trillion on corrections between 2005 and 2011, according to the Prison Policy Initiative. In addition, they spent 8 percent of their total corrections budget on correctional institutions, including local jails, in 2011, with the remainder spent on supervision of offenders within the community and maintenance of halfway houses. Prisons, parole systems, and juvenile justice programs account for about five percent of state budgets, says the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Taxpayers shell out big money for these costs. In Connecticut, for example, the total state cost of prisons was 929.4 million in 2012, with an average annual cost per inmate of about $50,000. This translated to a total taxpayer cost of $929.4 million, according to Vera Institute of Justice.

Making Bail

As you can see, the economical impact of incarceration is staggering, with long-lasting effects not just on you but your family and kids as well. If you need to make bail, give a Bail Bonds company a call. Stopping the incarceration trend now will limit the impact on the economical costs as well as the educational and financial costs to your children and family. Making bail can be affordable if you enlist the help of the right company.

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